Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bentley students go hungry to raise money for Darfur

Bentley students go hungry to raise money for Darfur
Carol Tran
Issue date: 10/19/06 Section: News
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The Fast-A-Thon culminated in students breaking the fast in the EDR

This past Tuesday, approximately 400 Bentley students of different backgrounds said no to food and water from 5:41AM to 6:03PM. These students participated in the Fast-A-Thon that was sponsored by the Bentley Muslim Students Associations (BMSA.) The Fast-A-Thon was held in order to raise money for the Darfur Conflict. Students fasted to help raise money but more importantly to experience, for one day, what it is like for many others to experience daily. Sponsors contributed a dollar for each Bentley student fasting.

At 6:03PM, when it was time to break the fast, many of the participants gathered in the Executive Dining Room for dinner, prayer, reflection and speeches. One of the speakers, Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, the Northeastern Muslim chaplain said, "The problem is not the government. If we allow for this to go on and not care, the problem is the state of our hearts." He then went on to paraphrase a quote by Prophet Muhammad, "You're not a true brother, if don't desire for you brother that which you desire for yourself." The night was a learning and a solitary experience for many as hearts were opened to the issues of Darfur, the Muslim culture, and the power of fasting.

The Darfur conflict, deemed as the "worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century," has been going on for over 3 years now in Sudan. Since then 160,000 to 400,000 people have been killed, 10,000 dying every month. More than 2 million people have been forced to leave their homes and flee to refugee camps. And more than 3.5 million completely rely on international aid for survival.

People from different religious and cultural backgrounds came together for the Fast-A-Thon. There were Christians, Indians, Muslims, Buddhists and others all in one room. They were all there for one purpose: to stand together and raise awareness for what's happening in Sudan.

The experience had a strong and lasting impact on those who fasted. Many students now will use the commonly misused phrase, "I'm starving" with better discretion. Furthermore, a number of students mentioned how fasting made them more aware of their spiritual state. "Fasting makes you focus more on your spiritual condition because you have to deny the physical needs," says Nicholas Freed, a sophomore.

For many whom fast, especially if fasting for a spiritual reason, they find that it brings them closer to God. Shahzad Zia, treasurer of BMSA, says "Fasting brings a stimulation of faith and religion. We come away from fasting with a rekindled fire to increase our faith and love for God." Father Claude Grenache, the Bentley Catholic advisor, could not agree more, "When fasting is paired with prayer, you find clarity about who you are, and you get this liberation from feeling God's presence."

Fasting also allows for a person to become less self-involved. Behzad Hussain, member of BMSA says, "I find myself wrapped up in my own life and personal issues all too often. Fasting helps divert attention away from ourselves and focus on the troubles around the world such as Darfur, not only by realizing they are occurring, but also to have some sense to what those people are going through." Other students have also mentioned that this experience brought forth compassion for the Darfur situation because the hunger brought the conflict closer to home.

The amount of money raised cannot be disclosed due to the sponsor's wishes and because BMSA wants to practice humbleness and humility, but according to BMSA's treasurer, Shahzad Zia, "the event was a tremendous success in both our goals of raising funds for Darfur and raising awareness for Darfur."

For more information on the Darfur conflict and how you can help, please visit

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